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Inflation dips to 5.91%

New Delhi, Jan. 9: Inflation fell to a 10- month low of 5.91 per cent for the week ended December 27 on the back of cheaper food and manufactured goods. Inflation stood at 6.38 per cent in the previous week and 3.74 per cent in the corresponding week of 2007. The index for primary articles declined 50 basis points from the previous week,while that for manufactured products fell 30 basis points. The fuel price index, however, remained unchanged. Prices of vegetables were cheaper by 3 per cent, jowar by 5 per cent, eggs and bajra by 1 per cent each compared with the previous week. Non-food items showed a marginal decline. Imported edible oil and newsprint became cheaper by 1 per cent each,while polyester fibre fell 2 per cent. Inflation for the week ended November 11, 2008, has been revised downwards to 8.7 per cent from 8.98 per cent. With inflation now well within the Reserve Bank of India’s forecast of around 7 per cent for 2008-09, many expect the central bank to cut interest rates again in its monetary policy review later this month. Planning Commission Officials said inflation could come down to 5 per cent by the month-end despite the truckers strike,which could marginally push up prices next week. The RBI has already reduced the short-term lending and borrowing rates (repo and reverse repo) by 100 basis points each to 5.5 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively.

Axis Bank net

Mumbai, Jan. 9: Private sector lender Axis Bank has reported a 63.24 per cent surge in net profit at Rs 500.86 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2008. The bank had posted a net profit of Rs 306.83 crore in the third quarter of the financial year ended March 31, 2008, it said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange. The total income rose 62.43 per cent to Rs 3,716.94 crore in the December quarter from Rs 2,290.24 crore in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. The bank’s interest income stood at Rs 2,984.77 crore, a jump of 66 per cent over the year-ago period. The bank had an interest income of Rs 1,802.34 crore in the December quarter of 2007-08. The bank’s interest expenditure dipped 95 per cent to Rs 2,055.09 crore during the quarter under review. Axis Bank shares closed at Rs 534.30, down 6.97 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Trai move

New Delhi, Jan. 9: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued a consultation paper on a proposal by the department of telecom to introduce a lock-in period for sale of promoters’ equity in telecom companies. The DoT had suggested a ban on the sale of equity shares owned by Indian promoters of new telecom firms for 3-5 years. This implies that promoters of companies such as Datacom, Loop, STel and ByCell will not be able to dilute their equity share during the lock-in period. Trai has sought views from stakeholders, industry experts and analysts on various aspects, including the minimum lock-in period, measures to prevent entry of fly-by-night operators and sale of equity linked to rollout obligations.

NBFC cash prop

New Delhi, Jan. 9: The government has set in motion the process of providing liquidity support of up to Rs 25,000 crore to cash-strapped non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) to enable them to pay existing liabilities. According to the decision approved by the cabinet, a stressed asset stabilisation fund set up for acquiring the stressed assets of the IDBI will function as a special purpose vehicle to provide money to non-deposit taking NBFCs. “The SPV would issue government guaranteed securities, subject to the total amount not exceeding Rs 20,000 crore with an additional Rs 5,000 crore, if needed. These securities would be purchased by the RBI and funds would be used by the SPV to acquire only investment grade commercial paper and non-convertible debentures of NBFCs,” home minister P. Chidambaram said.

RIL gas case

Mumbai, Jan. 9: Bombay High Court will resume hearing of the gas dispute case between Reliance Industries and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd next week. The division bench of justices J.N. Patel and K.K. Tated will continue to hear the case, though he was transferred to the Aurangabad bench of the high court last week. According to RIL lawyers, the case is likely to come up for hearing on January 12. The case pertains to gas-purchase agreement between Mukesh Ambani-led RIL and Anil Ambani’s RNRL. RIL had agreed to sell natural gas from its Krishna-Godavari gasfields to RNRL during the demerger of the Reliance group but failed to reach a solution on contentious issues such as the price of gas, quantity to be sold and duration of supply.

GeePee unit

Calcutta, Jan. 9: GeePee Infotech plans to set up a facility for conducting research and development and assembling mobile handsets in Bengal at an investment of Rs 100 crore by December. “The project is taking time due to the financial crisis,” GeePee managing director Bijay Agarwal said. The company will engage Chinese firms as partners. GeePee focuses on handsets below Rs 10,000.

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